KOPUWAI - OLD MAN RANGE TAG ALONG & PRIVATE PASSENGER TOUR
From Queenstown we head west through the Kawarau Gorge past Cromwell and Lake Dunstan to historic Clyde, where we have time to grab a coffee and see Clyde Dam up close. From Alexandra we start climbing steeply to 1682m, providing commanding views over Central Otago, and the 26-metre rock, Kopuwai, also known as the Obelisk or Old Man Rock. This area has an average annual temperature close to zero degrees Celsius. As a result the ranges are dotted with distinctive schist rock tors and bisected by fields of freeze-thaw hummocks and mounds, creating a wave-like effect across the slopes and basins. The ground cover is dwarf, tundra-like vegetation of wind- blasted cushion plants. The low growing dracophyllum plant dominates these areas, along with several mountain daisies. The area is rich in Maori and European history. You can find native flora typical for the windy, mountainous region, and observe a variety of birdlife. The Old Man Range is a sub-alpine island for lizards and invertebrates.
This video showcases some of the scenery and terrain that will be encountered on this Old Man / Old Woman Range tour.
We negotiate the old gold mining tracks and trails traversing the Old Man and Old Woman Ranges which run from north-west to south- east, creating a rain shadow that blocks and absorbs southerly fronts, making Central Otago New Zealand’s driest area. Attaining the height of 1740m we start travelling through the Kopuwai Conservation area, with stunning Central Otago vistas on our right, and the Nevis Valley and Hector Mountains on our left.
We come out at Duffers Saddle on the Nevis Road and proceed down through to the old gold mining township of Bannockburn, where a cool drink awaits in the old local pub.
A rapuwai pakiwaitara or story, recalls a time when hunting parties from coastal settlements venturing into the interior often disappeared without trace. This was because of a giant called Kopuwai who lived near the Clutha/Mata-Au River and preyed on humans with a pack of ferocious two headed dogs. The pakiwaitara recalls when Kopuwai found a party from the Kaitangata area and killed all of them, except for a young woman called Kaiamio. He took her as his slave.
Fearsome as he was, Kopuwai had one weakness; warm, nor-west winds made him sleepy. He was aware of this and knew that when he nodded off, Kaiamio would attempt to escape. Whenever he felt drowsy, Kopuwai tied a taura/flax rope to her arm; if either of them moved, he’d know that she was still there. Despite that, Kaiamio was able to outwit him and escape. She undid the taura on her arm and tied it to a nearby rush, so that when the giant stirred, he felt the rope give and take, as if his slave was tethered to him.
When Kopuwai woke and saw that Kaiamo was gone, he was enraged. In searching for her, he picked up her scent in the wind along the Mata-Au. This was when Kopuwai lived up to the meaning of his name – waterswallower – as in trying to recapture her he swallowed so much of the river that its bed was dry for some time.
In the meantime Kaiamo had escaped to her home on the coast. Intent on seeking her revenge from Kopuwai, she returned with a party of warriors and they waited for a nor-west wind to put the giant to sleep. When the wind arrived, the warriors blocked the front of the giant’s cave with dry bracken and ferns and lit them. The smoke finally woke Kopuwai and he tried to escape through a portal in the cave’s roof. As he emerged, Kaiamo’s war party grabbed him and beat him to death.
Killing Kopuwai was possible because his ferocious, two-headed dogs were away hunting. When they returned and found their master gone they searched, but in vain. In time, the dogs also died and became transformed into what are now rocky outcrops on hilltops between the Old Man Range/Kopuwai and South Canterbury.
Information credit, DOC
Tag along price
We offer discounts off the standard price with the following.
Passenger price (based on 2 adults min)
Tours depart Queenstown at 8am or as arranged. We can pickup clients in either Cromwell, Clyde or Alexandra.
These trips run from mid October to late April, depending on snow conditions and road conditions.
Please contact us to discuss dates.
From blue sky to no visibility in 20 seconds. This video shows what can happen to the weather up on the Old Man Range.
13 - 23
4WD Expeditions Limited
PO Box 1046
From New Zealand
Email : info@4WDexpeditions.nz
Freephone : 0800 4WD FUN (493 386)
Cell : 021 244 3920
From Overseas / International
Email : info@4WDexpeditions.nz
Phone : + 64 21 244 3920
© 2018 4WD Expeditions. All rights reserved.